A group of Fresno physicians and the Sierra Club want the Environmental Protection Agency to force California’s Central Valley to clean up its air. They filed a lawsuit in federal court in San Francisco asking the courts to order the EPA to enforce the Clean Air Act.
The suit alleges the Central Valley has some of the most dangerous air pollution in the country, including ground level smog that produces high levels of chronic asthma, bronchitis and other respiratory illnesses.
The Medical Advocates for Healthy Air and the Sierra Club want the EPA to declare the heart of the state in violation of the law and mandate clean up, the suit states.
Under the Clean Air Act, Congress gave areas designated as “extreme nonattainment areas” because of high ozone levels 20 years to clean up. That was in 1990. Now the time is up, according to the lawsuit, and the EPA must act.
In November 2001, the EPA determined the Central Valley failed to attain the mandatory ozone standard set for Nov. 1999. That reclassified the valley from “serious” to “severe.” That classification meant the state had to provide a new clean-up plan by 2002. Later the deadline was extended 18 months.
Missed deadlines again prompted EPA to push the deadline back to Nov. 2010.
The Medical Advocates and Sierra Club now want to force the EPA to act.
Case: Medical Advocates for Healthy Air v. U.S. EPA, C11-3515LB